This past week we visited IRID and also with the Director of the Cuna Jardin, Corazon de Jesus, and a social work student doing her practicum we also visited to homes of some of the children who attend the Cuna Jardin.
The Director of IRID, Dra. Mary Luz Barreda , presented me with certificates of appreciation –for me and for the SUPC Board members.
IRID is located on the outskirts of Arequipa and did not suffer damages from the intense rains that fell throughout January, February and most of March. However, in discussions with Dra Mary Luz we went over some of the issues affecting the Centre. The main issue is the lack of Government funding, including lack of support for the therapists, who work with the residents of the Centre. As well, funding support from Europe has also decreased as the former support is now being directed to the needs of refugees arriving in Europe.
We also went to visit some of the families whose children go to the Cuna Jardin. Most of the parents are single mothers whose partners have left, however we met a single father caring for his child as well.
The area where many of the families live was affected by the rain – the roads are made of gravel and were washed out, we had to make a long detour to get to one of the homes.
Another road was also blocked and we walked to the home..
The homes are basic, two have tile floors; the others were concrete. One mother, whose partner had left her, was living with her child in a single room the only furniture a single bed and a two burner hotplate for cooking.
The Cuna Jardin does more than just offer classes for the children. They keep longer hours than most nursery schools or kindergartens also provide child care while the parents work, and study time for older children in the afternoons after their regular classes are over.
Peru has been undergoing severe rainy weather the past few months with mudslides, rivers overflowing and infrastructure collapsing. Arequipa has been spared the brunt of the rain although some of the roads and bridges have collapsed and water has been cut for almost a week because of broken pipes and almost all the city has been without running water. Classes officially began at the beginning of March but the Government has cancelled all classes since last Thursday as it it’s considered unsanitary to have the children in locations without access to water in bathrooms. However IRID is a home as well as a day school and the Cuna Jardin has taken children whose parents have no alternative for childcare, both are coping with the lack of running water with delivery from water trucks. Once the dirt roads have been restored we are planning on making home visits the second week of April. We will also be visiting IRID again and will send an update on both agencies in April.
It’s Fall and traditionally the end of the rainy season, but this year the forecast is for the rains to continue until the end of April. Once water is restored the Cuna Jardin will have more than 120 children attending classes, work still needs to be done on the ceiling in some of the classrooms which buckled because of the rain and the roof will need to be repaired and a moisture barrier added. All of the classrooms also need new chalk boards. Although there is a small fee that parents are asked to pay at the Cuna Jardin, many families, especially women raising their children without support from the fathers, are not able to pay anything. As well, the fee only covers a small portion of the costs, the funds we donate help to cover the costs of children whose parents can’t pay as well as the difference between the fee and the on-going expenses.
Photos from the Cuna Jardin visit can be seen here: